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Happy Birthday Sergei Prokofiev!

Sergei Prokofiev was born on 23rd April 1891

Happy Birthday Prokofiev!

Today is the birthday of Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev – a 20th Century Russian composer who wrote for a great many genres; symphonies, concerti, film music, operas, ballets and program pieces.

Born on this day in modern-day Ukraine in 1891, Prokofiev acquired an interest in music after hearing his mother playing Chopin and Beethoven on the piano in the evenings. He composed his first piano piece at 5 and his first opera aged 9. When 13-year-old Prokofiev was introduced to the composer Glazunov, who also worked as a professor at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory, Glazunov was so amazed by the young teen’s ability that he suggested Sergei apply for study there.

Prokofiev’s first major orchestral success was the “Scythian Suite” which was accumulated from music he wrote for the Ballet Russes. He went on to write three more ballets, all of which were warmly received. Interested primarily in writing for opera, he composed for “The Fiery Angel”, “The Gambler” and “The Love for Three Oranges” – the last of which saw the most acclaim.

In 1953, at the age of 61, Prokofiev suffered a stroke and died suddenly in his home in Moscow. After his passing, his work saw a rapid growth in popularity, in the Soviet Union and across the world, and he is still remembered as having composed many recognised masterpieces.

Prokofiev composed several pieces which are still well-known today: “Peter and the Wolf”, “Troika” (which was sampled in a 1970s Christmas song “I Believe in Father Christmas”). But possibly his most recognised composition is “Dance of the Knights” from “Romeo and Juliet”. Local Sunderland AFC fans will recognise it as the tune to which their team runs out to on a Saturday afternoon!

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